NORTHERN CATTLE TRADE IN SPOTLIGHT
The northern cattle industry faces major uncertainty after one of the region’s biggest live exporters was issued with a show-cause notice by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
International Livestock Exports, responsible for about 70 per cent of live exports from Broome, was given the show-cause notice because former Emanuel Exports boss Graham Daws is a major shareholder.
Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association chief executive Emma White said if the Government proceeded with further steps of suspending or cancelling ILE’s licence, the economic impact could be as devastating as the 2011 live export ban to Indonesia.
“It would have major ramifications for pastoralists, the whole industry and region — pastoralists are understandably extremely nervous at the moment,” she said.
DAWR issued the show-cause notice upon concerns ILE could be influenced to supply Emanuel’s traditional markets in the Middle East, following the cancellation of Emanuel’s licence.
ILE managing director Michael Stanton said his company responded to the show-cause notice by Monday’s deadline with a 60-page submission, including references.
The submission stated it was not possible for ILE to export sheep to the Middle East given it needed to have in place an approved export program to supply those markets, which would require approval by DAWR. Mr Stanton, whose business shares an office with Emanuels in West Perth, said also supporting his company’s case was the requirement for any exporter to be part of the ESCAs supply chain to those markets, which ILE was not and would also require DAWR approval.
He said ILE had, as recently as July, sent a small number of fattailed sheep to the Middle East, but had since closed that supply chain after the client wrapped up its breeding business in WA.
“While we are confident we have clearly demonstrated ILE cannot be influenced, this action by DAWR makes us very nervous,” Mr Stanton said. “We have 20,000 cattle in the system for our schedule of shipments. If there is some problem this would cause major issues for the welfare of animals and would not be in the best interest of the industry.”
“We feel it’s harassment by the minister and department. Maybe they are just ticking boxes but it makes us feel very nervous.”
ILE exports or arranges processing for about 130,000 cattle a year, most from the Kimberley and Pilbara and are exported via Broome and Fremantle to South-East Asia. It also supplies a small number of sheep to South-East Asian markets.
Mr Stanton said ILE had made substantial capital investment in the northern region, including a major feedlot in Broome, and regularly bought “unmarketable” cattle then improved quality.
The demise of Emanuel Exports, WA’s biggest live exporter, started with a show-cause notice issued in May, following horrific footage aboard a voyage to the Middle East.
Its licence was subsequently suspended, then cancelled.